Réserve Naturelle Marine de Cerbère-Banyuls protects hundreds of diverse species in vital local ecosystems, including large seagrass meadows
Photo: Jérôme Payrot
The Réserve Naturelle Marine de Cerbère-Banyuls protects thriving seagrass meadows and rocky reefs, soft sediment areas and underwater cavities in the western Mediterranean Sea. Its diverse habitats allow for exceptional biodiversity: there are 1,239 animal species and 497 plant species known to live within the reserve. The Réserve Naturelle Marine de Cerbère-Banyuls features seagrass meadows of Posidonia oceanica, an endemic species of the Mediterranean that acts as a nursery for many species, including the noble pen shell, seahorses, octopuses and sea breams.
The rocky reefs of Réserve Naturelle Marine de Cerbère-Banyuls are home to many species of molluscs, crustaceans, and fish. Coralligenous formations in the reserve also provide habitat for more than 500 invertebrate species, while underwater cavities are home to spiny lobsters, moray eels, red scorpionfish, and groupers. The reserve is important habitat for the endangered and endemic dusky grouper.
The main objective of the Pyrénées-Orientales General Council, the regional government responsible for managing the Réserve Naturelle Marine de Cerbère-Banyuls, is to protect the seabed and marine species and to sustainably manage human activities and development. It aims to protect areas that are valuable for local biodiversity, geology or other natural features as well as fragile, rare and threatened ecosystems. The reserve guarantees the protection of animal and plant species as well as their habitats.
At least a dozen ecological monitoring expeditions are carried out each year in the reserve, either internally, externally, or in partnership with research laboratories. The Réserve Naturelle Marine de Cerbère-Banyuls is also buffered by the Parc Naturel Marin du Golfe du Lion, which is an MPA that covers an area of 4,019 km², monitors fished populations and can refuse assent to fishing activities likely to have a significant impact on the marine environment.